Late Friday night we welcomed our German exchange students. As the bus pulled up, the American students and their families waved both American and German flags. It was quite moving and a foreshadow of the excitement yet to come.
Amelia is away and not here to experience having Charlotte and Alina in our home. That is unfortunate.
As an Italian, I belong to a nationality, arguably, of suspicious and superstitious people. I remember one holiday, my in-laws had a foreign student for dinner. Grandma Rose was visibly uncomfortable with it. It wasn’t who or what he was, it was who he was not. An Italian.
People have asked me about having two ‘strangers’ in my home for a few weeks. I have to say I did not really give it much thought other than the logistics of insuring they were comfortable, happy and welcomed.
I believe they are.
This afternoon as I was working in my office, I heard the sound of three happy German students, laughing, talking and I think reviewing the events of the trip so far. It made me smile and in turn, I started to think of the things I have learned from them so far.
- They are not deaf, they are German. There is no need to use sign language or shout. They can hear and are more than capable of communicating. You just have to be patient.
- They are funny and get just as much of a bang out of us and we do them.
- When I asked the question one evening, “are you pooped?”, the response was an outburst of laughter. It has an underlying inference in German to the word fart. Now we are all laughing.
- No experience is too small. The girls were amazed at the water fountains in school, the high tech ‘blackboards” in the classroom and the sheer joy in eating their first cider donut at Lakeside Farm.
- They are eager to learn more about us and are painfully aware of the issues currently plaguing our society including our election process and the candidates for President as well as the racial issues and violence in our cities.
- I love when they say, “this is just like in the American movies” when we are driving around, or out shopping.
- They want our American sweets just as much as we want their “German chocolate”.
- Shopping? Oh yes! They want to see an American supermarket, Victoria’s Secret and the mall. We will hit them all before they leave.
I will miss them when they go. In only 5 days they have become part of our family and our routine. I hug them goodnight and I worried for 20 minutes last night when Charlotte took a run up to the high school. It rivaled the feeling of watching Jack drive alone for the first time.
Jack will go to Germany in April and I will be trusting a family with one of the two most precious things in my life. I hope they read this blog and feel the comfort that we are watching their children and keeping them safe and happy.
Thank you Jack for doing this; for volunteering our family and our home. For being who you are and opening your heart, your life and your home to these girls. They will forever be in our family memories.
Danke Charlotte und Alina für nach Amerika kommen und ein Teil unserer Familie zu sein. Sie werden immer in unseren Herzen sein. (I used google translate. I hope it’s right)